Rachel Maddow surprises Fremont County Democrats

Thanks, Fremont County Democrats, for the invitation to speak at your annual FDR Dinner.
Thanks, Fremont County Democrats, for the invitation to speak at your annual FDR Dinner.

When the Fremont County Democrats asked me to speak at their FDR dinner, I  pointed out I now worked for a Republican, Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

I added I was a registered Republican, although at times I have been a Democrat and unaffiliated.

No matter, said chair Gloria Stultz.  They wanted to hear me speak ever since, when as a Denver Post reporter, I gave MSNBC host Rachel Maddow a tour of the Democrats’ Bannock Street Project in Denver during the 2014 election.

So one week ago today, I headed to Cañon City with a surprise for the Fremont County Democrats: Williams and Maddow videotaped a greeting for the dinner guests.

“I’m sending you this video message basically as like a liberal hall pass for Lynn Bartels,” Maddow said. “I hearby swear she’s awesome, she’s totally trustworthy, she is way funnier than your average liberal or conservative. … Lynn Bartels is one Republican who has this liberal’s good housekeeping seal of approval.”

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Secretary Wayne Williams: making inroads on transportation

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, at Gov. John Hickenlooper's State of the State address on the House floor Thursday. To Williams' left is Robin Pringle, the governor's fiancé and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. On his right is state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Williams stood and applauded when the governor said the state needs new money for transportation. (Photo by Evan Semón/Special to Secretary of State)
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams, third from left, at Gov. John Hickenlooper’s State of the State address on the House floor Thursday. To Williams’ left is Robin Pringle, the governor’s fiancé and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock. On his right is state Treasurer Walker Stapleton and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. Williams stood and applauded when the governor said the state needs new money for transportation. (Photo by Evan Semón/Special to Secretary of State)

By Lynn Bartels and Keara Brosnan

Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ name is linked with elections but the Colorado Springs Republican’s expertise also includes transportation, which is obvious when he’s out and about.

At the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night, Williams reminisced with Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, a Steamboat Springs Democrat. They were county commissioners when they served together on the Colorado State Transportation Advisory Committee. The same happened at a recent breakfast meeting with county clerks when Williams ran into  Tim Harris, the former chief engineer for the Colorado Department of Transportation.

“A fun thing about being SOS,” Williams said, “is I get to drive on a lot of the roads that I helped to get funding for.”

His knowledge on transportation came in handy Thursday when Gov. John Hickenlooper addressed the issue during his State of the State speech.

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Here’s to you, Bill Artist

Senate President Bill Cadman, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst and lobbyist Bill Artist at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Blue Ribbon Reception on Wednesday.
Senate President Bill Cadman, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst and lobbyist Bill Artist at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception on Wednesday.

Lawmakers lauded and lampooned lobbyist Bill Artist Wednesday night at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s annual Blue Ribbon Reception.

Artist is the longtime lobbyist for the group, which hosts a party on opening day of the Colorado General Assembly.

“The association was formed in 1933. They hired Bill Artist to get rid of Prohibition and it worked. You’ve been lobbying us ever since,” joked Senate President Bill Cadman.

Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, said lawmakers appreciate Artist, his team and the Colorado Restaurant Association. As someone whose job keeps him from going home on a regular basis, Cadman said he has yet to cook at his place in Denver. That, he said, means he is continually supporting the restaurant industry, which has supported him during his nearly 16 years in office.

Cadman singled out Artist during his remarks welcoming those to the event. House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat, joined in.

“I don’t want to do a one up on the president — so early in the session,” she said.

But the speaker noted she has known Artist  since she was a lobbyist trying to get her bills passed and Artist was a Republican lawmaker.  Artist served three terms in the state House and then founded J. William Artists & Associates in 1986. His daughter Lacee now lobbies with him.

“Now it’s nice to have him as the lobbyist and I’m the lawmaker,” she said.

Eat, drink and be merry, courtesy of the Colorado Restaurant Association

Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association's Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.
Senate President Bill Cadman, a Colorado Springs Republican, and House Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, a Denver Democrat, at the Colorado Restaurant Association’s Blue Ribbon Reception Wednesday night.

The Colorado Restaurant Association hosts one of the best legislative receptions of the year, held opening night when lawmakers are filled with optimism and still humming “Kumbaya.”

“This is a great tradition at the Colorado General Assembly,” said House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, a Boulder Democrat.

“It’s a wonderful gathering. We’re all very excited about starting a new session and it’s always a good time to talk and have a drink with our friends on the other side of the aisle.”

The session opened Wednesday and by law must adjourn in May. The reception was held at the Colorado History Museum.

The Colorado Restaurant Association uses the event to inform lawmakers and reporters about the importance of their industry to state coffers. A variety of restaurants offered small plate samples of tacos, salmon and more.

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Senate Republicans embrace the past and future at pre-session fundraiser

Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and former Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, along with her daughter-in-law, former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson at Tuesday night's Senate Republican fundraiser.
Former Senate Minority Leader Mike Kopp and former Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, along with her daughter-in-law, former Jefferson County Clerk Pam Anderson, at Tuesday night’s Senate Republican fundraiser.
Former state Sen. Mark Hillman of Burlington and Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who is running for the state Senate.
Former state Sen. Mark Hillman of Burlington and Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Doty, who is running for the state Senate.

The Senate Republicans’ fundraising gala tonight featured the usual mix of lawyers, lobbyists and lawmakers but tonight there was an added ingredient: a bit of history.

Former Gov. Bill Owens, whose lengthy political career included a stint in the state Senate, was present as were three former GOP Senate minority or majority leaders: Norma Anderson of Lakewood, Mark Hillman of Burlington and Mike Kopp of Littleton.

All left their mark on the Senate.

“It’s good to see so many people,” said Anderson, who posed with plenty of folks who wanted a picture with her.

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